The Collector

Tue 28th February – Sat 3rd March 2012


Ali Robinson

at 12:52 on 29th Feb 2012



Stilted, jittery, and mechanical. Within the first ten minutes this was the unflattering tricolon I had drafted to launch my first review, and I felt horrible. However, I was soon to be pleasantly surprised as what was initially a rather vapid and uninspired performance of Mark Healy’s adaptation of John Fowles’ novel swiftly shifted into what, by the end of the play, I might have described as dynamic, poignant, and close. To engage an audience for the full ninety with only two characters on the stage is a challenging task for any pair of actors, requiring not only a healthy dose of ability but also the creation of a certain chemistry, which absorbs and then fixates us. This, while lacking in the initial scenes, gradually began to manifest itself into a near palpable intimacy as I began to feel, after the forty minuets or so, a nervous and obsessive Frederick Clegg (Hugh Wyld) and a vital, robust Miranda Grey (Holly Marsden) really step onto the stage.

Acting aside, the script itself is far from perfect with certain ‘messages’ about class inequality, taste, and the nature of art driven home a bit too rigorously. Nonetheless, it still gives the audience more than a sense of Frederick’s compulsive and paranoid nature and during some of its more inspirational moments one could almost feel the hot itch of jealousy and suspicion crawl up under his skin.

Over the course of the play the performance gained momentum becoming increasingly more vivid and real. The close-quarters of the Corpus playrooms was almost the ideal venue as the physical intimacy of audience and actors enhanced the uneasy dynamic of compassion and brutality that manifested itself between Miranda and Frederick. Of five stars I have awarded two, though it is on the cusp of three, because while some scenes were grotesquely compelling there were a few too many that seemed characterised by flaccidity. I can only say in conclusion that I didn't not enjoy this play...


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